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Safe Holiday Campaign

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be alert this holiday season!

Crime prevention and public safety are everyone’s business, and they improve the quality of life for every community. How well prevention and safety measures are exercised have a direct effect on the well being of everyone in the community.

The holiday season may very well be the “most wonderful time of the year” for shoppers. With such dazzling displays of colors, lights, and sounds in every storefront and walkway shoppers can easily zone out and fall into “shopping mode” oblivious to the reality around them. “Unfortunately, when shopping, people sometimes have a tendency to become distracted and
lose sight of their personal safety, but don’t become so preoccupied with the thrill and excitement of shopping and holiday festivities that you lose your sense of good judgment when it comes to your personal safety.

Sheriff Neustrom advises that it may also be the “most wonderful time of year for criminals.” This time of year has a tendency to attract more shopping-related criminal activity because thieves prey upon larger crowds and extended store hours. These factors, combined with the usual
distractions related to shopping, create a more favorable environment for thieves and other offenders.
Despite the fact that security measures are being heightened to protect shoppers Sheriff Neustrom is asking Lafayette Parish residents to keep their guard up to avoid becoming victimized.
Sheriff Neustrom suggests busy shoppers take some safety precautions to reduce their chances of becoming a victim.

Those safety precautions include:

Before You Leave
• There is safety in numbers. Always try to shop with another person. A single shopper is the ultimate target.
• When going shopping, make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return home.
• Try and avoid taking young children into busy shopping areas, but if it is unavoidable make sure they know what to do if they lose you. e.g., tell the nearest counter assistant that they are lost and NEVER leave a shop without you.
• Agree on a meeting point with older children in case you get separated.
• Before going shopping, remove from your wallet or purse any credit cards or other valuable identification that you will not need to reduce risk.
• Make a list of all credit card numbers and the numbers to call in case they are lost or stolen. This will make the incident a lot easier to report.
• Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
• Be aware that wearing headphones will decrease your ability to stay alert to your surroundings.
• Don’t get loaded down with too many bags. Plan for your heaviest purchases last. Try to keep one hand free.
• If you are in a store and sense that you are being followed, locate a store employee or security personnel. Be prepared to give them a complete description of the person you suspect.
• If you think you spot a thief or pickpocket alert the police or security staff. Avoid a confrontation whenever possible.
• If carrying cash, keep it in a front pocket. This makes it more difficult for a pickpocket to remove.
• Always carry a cell phone for easy access to emergency services.
• Don’t leave lots of presents on display in a parked car as they could tempt thieves. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.
• Plan ahead. If you know you are going to return to your car after nightfall, park in a well-lit area. Note your parking place.
• If you feel uneasy returning to your car alone, find a security guard and ask him to walk you to your car.
• Have your car keys in your hand to avoid spending unnecessary time unprotected from the security of your vehicle.
• When approaching your car, check around it and in the back seat.

“Have a safe and joyous holiday season from your
Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.”

Lt. Craig Stansbury

Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office